This week, an international team of scientists working on the extinct Sverrefjell volcano in the remote arctic Svalbard islands announced that they have found microbes living in ice that has been frozen for at least one million years. The team points out that if microbes can go on living in ice that never thaws on Earth, then life of a similar sort could also persist on Mars, where ancient deposits of ice have been found.
Of course, the existence of extremophile ice bugs on Earth does not prove that there are such critters living on Mars, but the mere idea got me thinking: What do intelligent design theologians make of the likelihood of life on other planets?
Intelligent design supporters from the Christian right wing say that life on Earth was created through supernatural means by an ancient being with super powers (hint hint: that means God). But what about Mars? If there was, or is, life on Mars, was that life also created by the same superpowerful intelligent designer (hint hint: God)? If not, does that mean that a different super being creator (hint hint: a different god) would exist for each planet?
If the same supernatural designer (you get the idea) made life on both Earth and Mars, then how come life on Earth has been so successful, and life on Mars has been such a tremendous failure?
Consider: Intelligent design supporters claim that life is so extraordinary that it cannot naturally occur on its own. That means that their intelligent designer had to create life through supernatural powers in such a way that life could begin and thrive in an environment that otherwise would not allow life to exist.
Therefore, if this intelligent designer really did have supernatural powers, and really did create life on Earth, then that same intelligent designer could have gone to Mars and done exactly the same thing, with exactly the same kind of success. After all, according to intelligent design theologians, both the Earth and Mars would have inhospitable to the creation and sustenance of life – as every natural environment in the universe would be, according to their theory.
This means that, if life is found on Mars, either in an existant or an extinct form, then it would be necessary to conclude that intelligent design theology has got it wrong. If life were found to have ever existed on Mars, it would mean one of the following things:
1) There was no intelligent designer of life with supernatural powers.
2) There were separate intelligent designers of life on Earth and Mars, and the one on Mars was a relatively stupid designer. (Thus, the right wing Christian theology of intelligent design could not be supported.)
3) The same supernatural designer made life on Earth and Mars, but really screwed up on Mars, and thus, was not very intelligent after all.
The same rule would apply if life were found existing anywhere else other than the Earth, but in less of a flourishing manner than on Earth. In such a case, the inevitable conclusion would be that either there was no single divine creator of life, or that the divine creator of life was an unreliable screwup.